Almost three years after the old Screens 2 and 3 were forced to close when Frobisher Crescent was converted into flats, and a few months later than initially advertised, the Barbican today opens a pair of new cinemas, the first additions to the Arts Centre since it opened in 1982.
Located at the eastern end of the Beech Street tunnel, near the Centre's main Silk Street entrance, the new building has been transformed from its former life as Exhibition Hall 2 into twin 153-seat cinemas, and a spacious cafe and restaurant. The design work has been completed by AHMM, who were responsible for the broad refurbishment of the Arts Centre in 2003, and they've stuck to many of the same visual cues here.
The cinemas are decked out in plush red leather seats and support digital and 3D projection alongside 35mm and 16mm equipment; at a time when celluloid projection is waning, and cash-strapped cinemas scrambling to follow the digital trend, it's good to see the Barbican support the superannuated medium.
The cinemas are open from today, Friday 7 December; our recommendation is to catch a screening of new thriller I, Anna, starring Charlotte Rampling and Gabriel Byrne, which is largely set — appropriately enough — in and around the Barbican.